HalicarnassusCopyright: © Public Domain
The Afterlife of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, 1500-1850
The importance of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus for European culture is revealed by its very name, which – in many languages – has become a noun signifying any sufficiently monumental tomb. However, the Mausoleum was destroyed during the Middle-Ages, and many aspects of its appearance remain uncertain, even since the excavation of its foundations in the 1850s. During the Early Modern Period, the main sources of information on this building were thus ancient texts, which were the only references concerning the Mausoleum’s dimensions and appearance. Accurately reconstructing architecture according to brief written descriptions, however, is an impossible task. Yet, despite this difficulty or perhaps due to the liberty it offered the imagination, numerous artists, architects and antiquaries took a keen interest in the monument during the timeframe 1500-1856, mainly using Pliny’s description to suggest reconstructions, devise pictorial representations and seek inspiration for new funerary projects or monumental public architecture.
This project aims to examine the afterlife of the Mausoleum during this period. Being an invisible reference, the monument left far more leeway to the imagination than other, existing ancient buildings that also attracted scholarly and artistic attention, such as the Pantheon. The Mausoleum’s invisibility entails that it is not the monument itself that will be investigated here, but rather the ensemble of texts, images and architectural projects referring to this central but unknowable model. Drawing upon recent developments in the methodologies of intermediality and temporality, the project aims to add a new dimension to this discussion by focusing on a precise case study examining the evolution of several key themes over a long period.
For more information please visit our project website.